'Forzan' artwork located in Gresham Street, Belfast ©

Courtesy of the artist SANCHO (Sebastian Medina B.) from Colombia

We are delighted to invite you to join this online panel discussion convened by the British Council research and insight team considering the role of diverse voices within socially engaged arts in shaping long-term positive peace. 

Wednesday 19 April 2023

16.00 - 17.30 BST

Online, via Teams Live

Taking place during the week of 17-21 April 2023 following the historic 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, we will be referring to case studies from both Northern Ireland and Colombia and using an upcoming essay from the next iteration of our Cultural Relations Collection (April 2023) on cultural relations and peacebuilding, as a springboard for discussion. 

The Cultural Relations Collection essay series asks early-career and established researchers to examine the theory and practice of cultural relations. We invite fresh perspectives on what has been the British Council’s business for almost 90 years – building connections, understanding and trust.

This upcoming edition explores how cultural relations can contribute to peacebuilding in different settings and contexts.  

In this event we will focus in on the upcoming cultural relations collection essay co-authored by Daniela Fazio Vargas and Carlos Pineda-Ramos, The Recognition of Divergent Voices: The role of artistic expressions in shaping the conditions for a long-term positive peace.

Central to their essay is the role of the arts to make visible what may previously have been hidden, as well as to imagine new futures. They make a powerful case for artistic expression as a means by which different voices can be elevated and building a space in which difference is recognised and valued, and that only in this way, can true peace be achieved.

This panel discussion and Q&A will develop themes considered within the essay, in particular the conditions needed for sustainable peace within cultural relations, and in the spirit of what John-Paul Lederach calls ‘an approach that addresses the culture of violence by transforming it into the culture of dialogue’.

We are pleased to have César López, Messenger of Non-Violence for the United Nations, Paula McFetridge, Artistic Director, Kabosh Theatre Company, Belfast, Christine Wilson, Director Research and Insight British Council and Sylvia Ospina, Director Arts Colombia British Council on our panel to hear their experiences, knowledge and reflections. 

About the authors:

Daniela Fazio Vargas holds a B.A. in Philosophy, a B.A. in History and a master's degree in Sociology from La Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia). Currently, she is a second-year Sociology PhD student at the University of Manchester where she is researching the political significance of music by taking as a case study the 2019 Chilean Uprising. One of her main interests has been broadening the notion of politics beyond the institutional sphere. Specifically, she is arguing that music is political as it transforms aesthetics. According to her, music not only helps to make 'thinkable the unthinkable', by visibilising marginal actors and making their demands audible, but also by transforming how subjects perceive, position, and relate to themselves, others, and the world. 

Carlos Pineda-Ramos graduated from La Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia) with a B.A. in Philosophy, a B.A. in Psychology, and a master's degree in Sociology. He is currently a PhD student in Management at the University of Bristol. He is analysing the emotional dynamics involved in outsourcing service jobs. Particularly, he is interested in examining how service works demand emotional skills and emotional capital from their employees, who are required to deploy them as part of their work routines. Throughout his career, he has been fascinated by the interaction between emotions and aesthetics. Indeed, during his master's degree, he analysed the interrelation of these concepts in cleaning service companies and in his B.A., he investigated the photographers' emotional implications of the Colombian armed conflict. Ultimately, he is interested in how the interrelationship between emotions and aesthetic allows us to comprehend the thoughts and perspectives of actors from various backgrounds. 

About the panellists:

César López is a musician and social leader. César is a renowned Colombian musician and composer who has assumed and led the mission of building peace and reconciliation in Colombia. He promotes a network of artistic projects that, provided with original forms of expression, explore a deep human sense and involve, in its purpose and theme, a clear social commitment to the planet today. As a multi-instrumentalist musician, with extensive artistic production, he has dedicated the last 25 years of work to the creation of countless musical works, songs, albums and projects produced and published independently, and conceived with the conviction of using art as the most suitable tool to generate social change and build a culture of peace. He has been named Messenger of Non-Violence for the United Nations, Amnesty International's Messenger of conscience and recently Ambassador of good will of the European Union in Colombia, titles obtained for his social contribution to humanity from his artistic career.

Paula McFetridge has been Artistic Director of Kabosh since 2006, a Belfast-based theatre company committed to challenging the idea of what theatre is, who it is for and where it is staged. She commissions, dramaturgs and directs the company’s annual programme of socially engaged theatre. Paula is a fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar Session 532 'Peacebuilding Through the Arts', was made Belfast Ambassador in recognition of utilising the arts to tackle difficult issues and won the Northern Ireland Tourism Board ‘Hero’ award for her work in cultural tourism. 

Sylvia Ospina, Director of Arts Colombia, British Council has 30 years of experience in the arts sector in Colombia and abroad. She was director of the Teatro Metropolitano de Medellín and was among the initiators of an international dance festival in the city, before moving to Bogotá to work at the Ministry of Culture managing the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia and then was Director of Bogotá’s main theatre, the Teatro Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. In Europe she worked at the Galerie Karsten Greve in Paris and at the Angela Flowers Gallery in London and, also in London, at Candlestar, managing the international photography prize, the Prix Pictet. On returning to Colombia, she took over the direction of the Teatro Colón, Bogotá’s opera house, during a major refurbishment. Immediately before joining the British Council, she was the Culture Officer at the Swedish Embassy to Colombia.

Christine Wilson has worked in the British Council since 2004. As Director Research and Insight, she oversees a global portfolio spanning education, arts and culture, youth and skills, as well as exploring the role of cultural relations in supporting the UK’s soft power aims. She is accountable for global standards and practice, ethics, programmes, partnerships and networks. She directs the Next Generation research series, which aims to engage youth voices around the world and contribute to improved policymaking. She previously directed the Hammamet Conference, which brought together leaders from the UK and North Africa, and co-chaired the steering group for Peace and Beyond, which marked the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement by exploring international approaches to sustainable peacebuilding. Christine is an Advisory Board member at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Please note, this event will be conducted in English to cater to a global audience. 

External links